Oh dear blog reader, how I’ve been neglecting you…but I’ve just been so gosh-darned busy over here in the US of A.
So, when I left you it was Friday and I’d just spent my first full day in San Francisco. Here’s what happened next (in brief)…
I hired a bike and rode from Fort Mason to the Golden Gate Bridge (only about 3 miles). I only rode to the middle of the bridge and back because despite it being really sunny and hot at sea level it was still misty (and freezing) on the bridge.
There was a great spot to take photos on the way down though with brilliant views over the city. A nice man offered to take this photo for me but I’m sticking to principle that every photo of me on this holiday will be taken by me with only the views in the background changing!
After that I had a wander in Fisherman’s Wharf which is really tacky- just like the Golden Mile back home in Blackpool really! Then I rode the cable car all the way back downtown. I was hanging off the side like a real tourist which is pretty scary when you start going down those hills!
The weather was really hot, but quite windy so you didn’t notice it so much. When I was on the bike I had leggings and my converse boots on and managed to sunburn the 4 inches of exposed flesh! And my nose a bit too… My legs now look completely ridiculous with their stripy sections!
I was awake at 7am to watch the football (don’t know why I bothered!), then I went to watch some of the Gay Pride parade which was cool – very flamboyant! One whole section was just cheerleaders and they were my favourites, even when it seemed like they were about to throw people into the overhead electric cables that the buses run on!
After that I walked miles to the Golden Gate park and went to the Academy of Sciences – the guy working on reception at the hotel had recommended it. It was good too – the planetarium was my favourite bit, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg no less! And it has a ‘living roof’ which was really cool, and, I believe, inspired by the Teletubbies!
After that I got the bus to the pier for the boat to Alcatraz. And there it is…The Rock.
It was brilliant- there was an audio tour of the cellhouse narrated by former officers and inmates then a talk about some of the escape attempts. And I spent most of the time trying to spot film locations!
I went on the evening tour so the boat back was at 8.40 just as the sun was setting- the views were amazing. Then on the way back to my hotel I had pasta in Little Italy then went to a bar as recommended by Michael Legge…where they filmed a bit of Basic Instinct apparently!
I checked out of the hotel and picked up my rental car – a Dodge Caliber…it’s pretty big but not massive. And I managed to drive out of San Fran without crashing or dying, despite the best efforts of the satnav to make me turn left when I wasn’t allowed… and I keep trying to change gear! From San Francisco I went to Walnut Creek, over the Oakland bridge to the San Francisco Creamery for ice cream. I saw it on Man v. Food and had to go there! I had a corned beef sandwich with actual corned beef that didn’t come out of a tin, and then had the biggest dish of apple pie flavour ice cream ever made, and that was a small!
From there I headed down Highway 1; the Pacific Coast Highway, to a place called San Simeon where William Randolph Hearst built a castle…the barman at the hotel in San Francisco recommended it, and it’s about half way to Oxnard where I was going next to meet my Twitter friend Shannon (@monasmith).
The views down the coast were amazing. I realised I’d never seen the Pacific Ocean before. It’s a really great drive along the winding coast road, if you ever find yourself in that part of the world I would definitely recommend it over the main Highway 101.
There isn’t really anything in San Simeon itself except a load of motels but I was excited to stay in a motel right on the coast, just like in the movies with drive up rooms and everything!
I got up pretty early and was at Hearst Castle by 9.30am but it seems you really need to book in advance because the next available tour wasn’t until 11.50am. I really didn’t want to wait around that long but I did see the really good 40 minute film about the history of the castle and had a look round the exhibits in the visitor centre. I didn’t even get a glimpse of the castle in the ended because it’s way up on the hill and was completely hidden in the mist!
From San Simeon I carried on South to Oxnard where I was going to stay with Shannon, only stopping for lunch in a cute little town called Summerland, oh and being baffled when trying to fill the car with petrol…it turned out I had to leave my credit card with the cashier before they would turn the pump on….I eventually discovered when the lady in the shop spoke to me through the pump!
I arrived at Shannon’s at about 4pm (I don’t know how I would be managing without the satnav on my phone by the way) and we had a good catch up before I went to watch her Roller Derby practice. I knew a bit about derby but it’s pretty brutal! Looks like a lot of fun though. After practice we headed back to Shannon’s and bed.
I’m going to leave this here for now as it’s already miles long. Yesterday I spent the day being a tourist LA and Hollywood with Shannon and today I drove to Palm Springs….which is definitely the hottest place so far, I suppose it is in the desert after all…but I’m going to save the details for another day. Rest assured though, I think so far this is the best holiday I’ve ever had…and I’ve still got 10 days to go!
As always, thanks for reading. Until next time….